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Free App Friday: 5 Great Time-Saving Chrome Extensions

Whip Gmail into shape, decrease load times, stay focused, and more.

You spend almost all day in a browser, yes? Might as well get some work done while you’re at it. It’s time to turn Chrome into a lean, mean efficiency machine with these free extensions.

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1. Master Your Mail

With a truly mind-bending set of features, Checker Plus for Gmail (link) is the only extension you need for dealing with your mail efficiently. New messages pop up in the corner of your browser, at which point you can read, reply, or archive–all without ever opening the actual Gmail interface. You can hook into multiple accounts, have your messages read to you, dictate messages of your own, and a whole lot more. If you’re going to try out a single Chrome extension, this is the one.

2. Kick Ads To The Curb

There’s no shortage of ad blockers for Chrome, but uBlock Origin (link) is worth a look if only for how much it speeds your browser up by blocking bandwidth-sucking ads. Leverage the handful of default filter lists or select additional lists for more aggressive coverage. With a quick click, you can see how many trackers have been blocked for a particular site and, if you’re feeling generous, whitelist sites you’d like to support. Like this one.

3. Smarten Up Your Screeds

Worried that people might get all judge-y about your writing? Get confident, Stupid! Like a digital English teacher, Grammarly (link) corrects your grammar and spelling by detecting more than 250 common mistakes. It works just about anywhere you can write–social media, email, forums, and the like–and goes above and beyond simply fixing spelling errors, offering up contextual help and vocabulary enhancement in order to make you a better writer all around. Skip the endless proofreading and second-guessing.

4. Sign In A Snap

Use DocuSign (link) to put an end to the nonsense normally involved with trying to digitally sign something. Hover over Gmail attachments to sign documents in seconds, right-click Dropbox documents for a quick John Hancock, or upload documents from your computer. No more printing out Word docs, signing them, then scanning them back into the digital realm.

5. Ditch the Distractions

I don’t know about you, but some of us have a hard time concen—I found my pen! It was in my pocket. Try StayFocusd (link) to restrict your own access to troublesome time-wasters for set periods of time. You can block entire sites or specific pages, or only allow certain sites while blocking everything else. Put the rest of the Internet on ice for an hour or so.